NSSGA Legislative & Policy Forum

By |  August 17, 2017

Laura O’Neill-Kaumo

On September 24-28, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) will hold its first Legislative & Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting. The organization’s new event takes place at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington and is designed to educate members of Congress about the importance of the aggregate industry to the economy, all in an effort to transform policy and regulation.

To understand more about the details of this new event, Pit & Quarry caught up with Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, a veteran lobbyist and NSSGA’s senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs:

Laura, what precipitated the launch of NSSGA’s new Legislative & Policy Forum?
We want to help the people who work in this industry build a relationship with their members of Congress. Meeting face-to-face is the absolute best way to start that process.

Working with local elected officials at home – mayors, city council members, state house members – is only half of the job. It’s essential that we meet with them in Washington, in their offices, and talk about what they can do for us locally – and for the entire industry.

Beyond that, we want to offer professional development for people in all sorts of positions in a quarry or pit. Sales, permitting or management, we wanted to create a signature event that appeals to everyone in the industry.

What can attendees expect to take away from the event?
No matter if you are a mechanic, geologist, plant manager or permitting expert, you are the best there is at what you do, and we are offering something for everyone. Learn the latest news on compliance issues, sales and marketing trends and updates to the permitting process from industry experts.

In addition to advocacy and professional development, we are creating a lot of networking time for everyone to mingle among their industry peers at events and receptions that can only be found in Washington.

What key industry issues do you anticipate coming to the forefront as producers visit with their congressional representatives?
Each good-paying job in a quarry supports nearly five more jobs outside of the aggregates industry. So we are happy to invite anyone who wants to advocate for better infrastructure and creating good-paying jobs to join us.

Do you manufacture the equipment that drills, smashes or crushes, or makes quarrying possible? Do you use aggregates in your end products? We welcome any company from any industry to join us and advocate for a transportation infrastructure that improves our national economy and daily lives.

What are some steps aggregate producers should take to prepare for these meetings? What are the meetings like?
Those of us who work in this industry literally and figuratively build America, and with that comes great responsibility. The men and women on Capitol Hill who represent your hometown aren’t hearing a clear message about how our products build local roads, schools, bridges, hospitals and provide good-paying jobs. Who better to deliver the message than constituents of theirs? No one.

NSSGA will have sessions to prepare individuals and groups to get clear messages across to their members of Congress. Then attendees can take those lessons home and continue to build those relationships so that when our industry needs support from Capitol Hill, your lawmakers are only a phone call away.

Washington seems like a divided place, what impact can people have at this event?
No matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat, everyone wants and needs better roads and bridges. We want to make true believers out of members on both sides of the aisle that investing in infrastructure creates jobs and improves our economy.

We plan on presenting the annual Safety and Environmental Awards of Excellence with lawmakers. This will give us an amazing opportunity to show them how committed our operations are to their communities and the men and women who produce aggregates.

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